As Tyson Fury faces new levels of expectation he has resumed a role he knows well, that of provocateur, before his Las Vegas bow on Saturday.
Fury faces the German Tom Schwarz at the MGM Grand and the fight against the undefeated 24-year-old is being treated by the promoter, Bob Arum, as a chance to introduce Fury to the broader American public.
He is the strong favourite but cannot risk the same experience as his rival Anthony Joshua, whose shock defeat by Andy Ruiz Jr sent shockwaves through boxing.
“As we saw last week, you can’t overlook anybody,” Fury said. “This is heavyweight boxing and Tom Schwarz knows if he beats Tyson Fury, then he’s set for life. He becomes a multimillionaire, he gets to headline big shows and all his dreams come true.
“But you’re talking to a king. I’ll figure him out within the first five seconds of the fight. Because that’s what I do. Within five seconds I’ll know exactly what to do with him.
“When you get paid as much as I am, motivation is easy. Very easy,” Fury said, slipping into the one-liners that come easily to him but are only one facet of the fighter’s complex persona. “This is a massive attraction of a fight, the UK, Europe, America. This is going to be epic. This is going to be a boxing behemoth.”
Arum, whose half century of experience has seen him work with the greats of the sport from Ali to Hagler and Pacquiao, has bet on Fury as the man to bring a big audience to new American streaming player, ESPN+. In the UK the fight will be shown on BT Sport Box Office.
“He has the ability to capture the imagination not only of boxing fans but of sports fans and the public at large,” Arum said. “Tyson Fury is the people’s fighter.”
“It’s an easy job for Bob,” Fury chipped in. “He has promoted the best fighters in the world and now he gets to promote the most talkable character, the lovable rogue, the handsome British guy.”
With a deal for three fights with the WBC champion Deontay Wilder apparently confirmed by Arum, the prospect of future earnings lost is just one more layer of pressure added to Saturday’s fight.
Fury is revelling in his transformation from pantomime villain to people’s pugilist following his December draw with Wilder. “Having people want you to succeed is much better than having people want to knock you out,” he said.
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